Thom Yorke recently delivered his first ever film score, creating music for Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake that’s been as praised as the movie itself. You’d think being in a band with Oscar-nominated composer Jonny Greenwood would have encouraged the Radiohead frontman to approach scoring, but that’s not entirely true. It wasn’t mutual admiration or support that brought Yorke to Suspiria, but jealously.
“If I was honest with myself, I was a little bit jealous but felt that I couldn’t [do it] so I never tried,” Yorke told BBC Radio 1’s DJ Phil Taggart about having such an accomplished scorer in his band (via NME).
It wasn’t just Greenwood’s success that intimidated Yorke, either, as the guitarist had far more base skills and experience than the singer. “Jonny’s just so far ahead – he understands orchestration works, he can read music, he’s studied it all. I mean, he sits there studying scores,” Yorke continued. “For Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film [Phantom Thread], he went away and read all the scores from the period of the composers of the time. That is not gonna happen with me ’cause I can’t read music.”
Yorke added that he felt “purely amateur” next to Greenwood’s approach. He thought a horror film would be make for the simplest first attempt at creating a score — “I can just make loads of weird noises” — but he discovered even that was far more complicated than he’d anticipated:
“So he’s out there off on his travels and he knows what he’s doing, whereas I’m totally scratching the surface, purely amateur. It stayed like that for a while and then I suddenly found myself committing to do a horror film and then thinking, ‘Well, it’s a horror film, I can just make loads of weird noises. It’ll be fun.’ There was way more to it than that and it was more melodic than that and more adventurous, and I was having to write choral pieces just using my own voice and many, many different things. So I’m a sucker.”
A sucker who still created some pretty arresting music for Luca Guadagnino’s new film. Yorke also performed one of the tracks, “Suspirium”, alongside a solo piano version of “Everything in Its Right Place” during a recent stop at BBC Radio 1’s Piano Sessions.